The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 1: A Proposal

I opened the apartment door and stepped inside to the welcoming coolness of the air inside the condo.   It was a blistering hot day in Atlanta.   The closeness of the humidity in the air made it seem even hotter.  There is a very valid reason for people to call it "Hotlanta."   I had laughed at my cousin, Keith, when he told me it was Atlanta's nickname.  A lot has happened since that day a little over six years ago.  Keith is married now and has started a family.   They live in the same condo building as Rick and I.

Rick will be home soon and I want to have dinner on the table when he walks in the door.   I dropped my backpack by the door and headed to the kitchen to start cooking.   I had picked up some steaks and some shrimp on my way home from work.   I put the steaks and shrimp on the broiler and threw a couple of potatoes in the microwave.   I quickly made a salad and set the table.   We have a nice dining room but we prefer to eat in the kitchen.  Mom always taught me that the dining room was for company.   So we eat in the kitchen.   It's much cozier anyway.  

As I waited for the food to finish cooking, I couldn't help thinking about how distant Rick had been the last couple of weeks.  But every time I'd tried to talk about it, Rick would change the subject or he'd leave the room.   I was feeling pretty depressed about it because I didn't know what was wrong.   I'd gone over everything I thought might have caused a breach in our relationship.   The problem is there isn't anything!   It just doesn't add up.   All I could think about anymore was that Rick has found someone else to replace me and is slowly trying break off our relationship.

What puzzles me though is the fact that we still have great sex!   Rick's passion for me seems to be as hot or even hotter than when we first met.   I'm so totally confused!   Maybe I'm over analyzing the situation.   Maybe all of my doubts can be attributed to an overactive imagination! 

The more I think about the deafening silences that have fallen between us during the last two weeks, the more convinced I am that there's got to be someone else in Rick's life!   His behavior towards me has changed in some really odd ways that I can't explain in any other way.   I shuddered as I remembered the last time Rick's behavior had changed so drastically towards me.   I tried to shake off the dark clouds of depression that threatened to engulf me as memories of that dark time came flooding back.   The timer went off providing me with a much needed distraction.

Just as I was pulling the steaks and shrimp off the broiler, I heard the door open and Rick's voice floated into the kitchen from the foyer, "Hi, honey, I'm home!"

Rick loves doing that!   Every day he shouts it out when he comes in the door.   I really love him!   Rick came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, nuzzling my hair.   He loves teasing me this way.  

"Rick, you're so bad!   Let me put this stuff down so I can greet you properly," I said as I placed the plate with the steaks and shrimp on the countertop and turned around in his arms so I could give him a deep, passionate kiss which he returned with equal if not more passion.   I could feel his body react to mine as I pulled him into a tighter embrace.

"Glenn, I love you so much.   You're the best thing that ever happened to me," Rick said as he released me and took a seat at the kitchen table.

"I love you, too, and you are the best lover as well so I am doubly blessed," I said with a big grin on my face pushing aside my worries about our relationship.   I wanted this to be a special night for us.  Maybe I could put things right between us, again.   "Not everyone has the best lover in the world as their sweetheart.   I still wonder what I did to deserve to have you."  I kissed the top of his head as I placed the food on the table and sat next to him.

I still marveled that Rick would consider me his life partner.   When I met Rick, he was the worst womanizer in Atlanta.   He used them and left them.   He had quite the reputation among the ladies, yet, they would come home with him knowing he'd drop them the next day.   Looking back on it now, I'm amazed that he hasn't returned to his womanizing ways during the entire time we've been together.   Other than a couple of times during our first weeks together, we've been completely monogamous. 

In my very biased opinion, Rick is the very best looking guy in the whole world.   The physical training he receives in the Marines has kept Rick trim and fit.   Being a marine has presented its challenges to our relationship but we have managed to overcome most of those as they have presented themselves.  

Lately, his Marine buddies have been pressing him about our relationship.   We have been partners for just over six years now.   We aren't in the closet about it but we aren't exactly out to everyone either.  For Rick's sake, we've been rather circumspect about our relationship in public (well, most of time that is). 

I have always hated it when Rick leaves for his reserve duties once a month.   He comes home so stressed out.   We have argued about it sometimes (Okay, okay….we've argued about it a lot!).   I want him to get out of the reserves so we don't have to live in fear of someone finding out that we're life partners.   Last time I pushed him about getting out of the Marines, we had a real nasty fight about it.   I felt so bad about our argument that I ended up apologizing every day for nearly week until he begged me to stop apologizing.

I sat down next to Rick who took my hands in his as he said grace.   When he finished, I asked, "So how was work, honey?"

"It's was okay.   You know how I hate flying a desk!   I need to find me a new job where I can be outdoors moving around doing stuff!" Rick exclaimed.   He took a bite of his steak and smiled at me.   "You are the best damn cook around!   This is the best tasting steak I've ever had.   You are going to make me fat!"

"You won't have a chance to put any weight on if you keep doing to me what you did last night…all night long!   I loved every minute of it but I was sure tired this morning.   I don't know how you manage to function with so little sleep!"

Rick didn't answer but the lecherous look on his face said it all as he reached over and caressed the inside of my thigh.   "Are you ready for another night just like last night?"  

You don't know how much of a turn on it is to hear Rick's husky voice ask me that kind of question.   I was having a hard time even concentrating on chewing the piece of steak I had in my mouth.  

I managed at last to swallow it and respond to his question, "Yes, I am always ready for you to make love to me.   You know that I can't resist you when you make me feel so wonderful!"   I looked into his eyes and took his hand in mine and gave it light kiss.

Rick's hearty laugh rang out sending chills up my spine in anticipation of what was to come later tonight.   "Let's finish eating and then I will show you how much I love you."

We finished our meal in a companionable silence as there was no need for words.   Rick kept rubbing his foot up and down my leg the entire time.  Rick finished eating and pushed back his chair, "That's one of the best meals you have ever cooked for me."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it," I said as I stood to clear the dishes.   Rick stacked all of the dishes and picked them all up in his huge hands and placed them in the sink.   He grabbed a towel as I filled the sink with soapy water and started washing the dishes.   I handed them to him to dry and put away.

As we worked, Rick asked me, "So how was your day?"

"It sucked!   My boss was on my case almost every minute of the day!   She's such a bitch!" I said heatedly.   "I wish she would learn to show at least some appreciation for the work I do for her." 

"Why don't you talk to her and see if she won't change her ways?   You never know?" Rick suggested.

"I've tried doing that before.   Today, she hated to admit I was right about not sending too much information up the management chain.  She got bit by it!   You should have seen her face!"  I laughed at the memory.   It had been so satisfying to hear her say, ‘Don't you dare say, "I told you so!"'

Rick put down his dish towel and wrapped his arms around my waist.  "We're done!   Come relax with me a minute."   Rick escorted me into the family room where we collapsed on the couch in front of the big screen TV.   I stretched out luxuriously as Rick reached for the remote and turned on some nice romantic music.

Rick is a hopeless romantic and I love it!   He brings me flowers and chocolates.   I'm always finding little notes around the house.   Each one tells me how much he loves me!   It's kind of corny sometimes but I love him all the more for it.

Rick got up from the couch and knelt in front of me.  He started massaging the inside of my thighs, moving up and down my legs.  I moaned in pure pleasure.   My man knows me so well!   Rick is a very expert lover and knows how to make love to me so that each time is more fantastic than the last.   It wasn't long before we were both completely naked and enjoying the feel of each other's body.

Our lovemaking left us completely exhausted.   Rick held me in his arms with my head on his chest.   Rick was nearly asleep and I was getting there when I heard a knock on our apartment door.   I extricated myself from Rick's arms and quickly pulled on my clothes before approaching the door to look through the peep hole to see who was pounding on our door.   I pulled the door open at once when I saw that it was Keith.   He was accompanied by his four-year boy, Egan.

"Can you watch Egan for us?   Kerry thinks she started into labor so I'm taking her over to the hospital," Keith said by way of explanation.

"Sure Keith.   Come here, Egan.   Let's get you some cookies and milk."  I said.

Egan put his little hand in mine as I lead him into the kitchen.   Keith followed me with Egan's little blanket, teddy bear and a bag with his clothes, etc., in it.  

"Egan, would you like to have some cookies and milk?" I asked.

"Yes, I would love some," Egan responded with his quick and ready smile.   I poured him a glass of milk and placed a couple of my homemade chocolate chip cookies on a plate.

"Yummy!   You make the best cookies, Glenn," Egan said with the enthusiasm only a four-year old has when presented with cookies and milk.

"Egan, be good for Glenn and Rick, Okay?   I will be back in the morning to get you," Keith said, giving his boy a quick kiss on the top of the head.

"Sorry to run out on you.   I really appreciate your willingness to watch Egan for us.   I will call you from the hospital as soon as we know anything."

Keith had that scared look about him that husband's get when their wife is about to give birth.   Seeing it, I pushed him out of the kitchen and said, "Man, get moving.   Don't keep Kerry waiting!   We'll keep your little guy safe and don't worry about tomorrow.   I can stay home with Egan until you get back."

"Thanks Glenn.   I love you," Keith said as he pulled me into a quick embrace before racing out the door forgetting to close it behind him.   As I closed the door, Rick came up and wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head.

"What's that all about?" Rick asked.

I turned around in Rick's arms and placed my arms around his neck, "Kerry has gone into labor and Keith brought Egan to stay with us tonight.   I'm sorry I didn't ask you first.   Is that okay with you, honey?   If not, I can see if someone else can take the little guy for the night."

"It's okay.   I love Egan.   He's so cute.   You know he looks a lot like you," Rick kissed me and led me back into the kitchen where Egan was dipping chocolate chip cookies into his glass of milk.

Egan's eyes lit up when he saw Rick holding my hand.   Egan asked, "Glenn is Rick your husband?   He always holds your hand and gives you kisses like my Dad gives kisses to my Mom."    I was so stunned by the question I couldn't think of an answer.  

Rick laughed and answered for us, "Yes, Egan.   I'm Glenn's husband and I love him very much just like your dad loves your mommy.   Is that okay with you, Egan?"

Egan answered with his mouth full of cookie, "Yeeesh."   He finished chewing his cookie and swallowed and continued, "I thought so.   Daddy said you love each other very much."

"Your daddy is right, Egan," I said.   "We do love each other very much and we love you too.  I'm glad you came to stay with us tonight.   Are you excited to have a new baby at your house?"

"No, I don't want to share a room with a baby," Egan said pulling his mouth into a cute little pout.

"Why is that?" I asked

"I'm not a baby!   I'm a big boy!" he exclaimed with a lot of feeling.

"You're right.   I'm glad you're such a big boy because you can help Mommy with the new baby.   Did you know that big brothers are very special people?" I asked.

"No," he said shaking his head.

"Big brothers get to show everyone how responsible they are by helping watch over their baby sister or brother."

Egan looked at me like I had just become the craziest person in his universe.   "That's not anything special," he said with the certainty of an expert on the subject.

As Egan had finished his cookies and milk, I put the dishes in the sink and picked him up in my arms and took him into the family room and sat with him on my lap.

"How about we spend some time reading some of your favorite stories?" I asked.   Egan nodded his head and quickly climbed off my lap and went to the bag Keith had brought and pulled out some story books.   He brought them and handed them to me as he climbed back onto my lap.   Rick sat down next to me on the couch and put his arm around me and listened as I read stories to Egan.  

We had just finished the story of the Three Little Pigs when Rick spoke up, "Egan you do know what really happened to the Three Little Pigs?"

Egan's eyes grew wide, "No, Rick, didn't they just eat the big bad wolf and live happily ever after?"

"Well, that's one way the story ends but let me tell you what my Grandma told me happened to those three little pigs," Rick said.

Rick stood up and launched into the funniest rendition of the Three Little Pigs story I have ever heard.   He acted out the parts and even scared both of us at times.   Both Egan and I were laughing so hard we couldn't stop when he finally finished his story telling.

Egan exclaimed, "Glenn, Rick is the best storyteller.   I love it when you read to me but I like it when Rick tells his stories even more."

Egan ran over and grabbed Rick around the legs.   Rich leaned down and picked Egan up and gave him a kiss on the head.  "You are pretty neat yourself, Egan.   Can I rock you to sleep?"

"Sure, Rick.   But I need my blanket and my teddy bear."

"Okay big guy.   Let's get them out of your bag," Rick said.  Rick bent down and retrieved both items from the bag and walked over and sat down in the lazy-boy rocker and wrapped Egan up in his blanket and handed him his teddy bear.  

We have babysat for Keith and Kerry ever since Egan was a tiny baby.  Egan has always preferred to have Rick rock him to sleep.   They have a special bond it seems.   Whenever I can't get Egan to stop crying, Rick always takes him from me and sits in the rocking chair and within minutes Egan is sound asleep.

As I watched them, I thought about what a great dad Rick would be.   Maybe we could talk about adopting sometime soon.   It wasn't long before both Egan and Rick were asleep.  I quietly got up and got my camera and snapped a couple of quick pictures before taking Egan from Rick's lap and taking him into the spare bedroom and tucking him into bed.

When I returned to the front room, Rick was awake and smiling at me.   "Don't tell me you want to adopt a child.  I can see it in your eyes.   You want children as much as I do don't you?"

I just nodded my head because of the lump in my throat.   I love him so much.  He seems to be able to read my mind every time.  Rick pulled me into an embrace and kissed me tenderly.   He led me into the bedroom and proceeded undress us both.   Once in bed, he pulled me into a tight embrace.   Then he gently kissed me and pulled back far enough to look into my eyes.

"Glenn, I love you very much and want you to be mine forever.   I want us to grow old together and raise a family together."

Tears of joy and happiness started down my cheeks.   All my worrying about Rick's recent behavior evaporated in that moment.  

Rick reached up and wiped the tears from my face and asked, "Why are you crying?"

"Because you have made me so happy, I can't hold back my emotions.   I love you so much Rick Lernier.   You mean everything in the world to me."

"I have to tell you my good news.   I am no longer in the Marines.   I was discharged today and have turned in all of equipment, etc.   I am no longer beholden to Uncle Sam and can be the person I want to be without fear of being put in prison or otherwise punished for breaking the military's rules by falling in love with my best friend in the whole world."

To say I was stunned was an understatement.   I just couldn't believe what I had just heard.   Lately, I had tried not to make an issue of Rick's love of the Marine Corps and its effect on our relationship.   I had prayed silently many times that Rick would make the decision to leave the Marine Corps on his own without any prompting from me.   Tonight, my patience had paid off.   I put my arms around his neck and pulled Rick into very passionate kiss that seemed to last forever. 

When we finally surfaced for air, Rick asked, "Are you willing to move to another state with me?"

"You know I will go with you wherever you go, sweetheart," I said smiling at him.

"Okay, I want us to move to gay friendly city where we can be open about who we are without fear of some red necks cracking our skulls just because they see us holding hands or kissing each other in public.   I don't want to live in fear anymore.   Atlanta is not a gay friendly place.   In fact, most of the South is not gay friendly.   There are way too many holier than thou Christians preaching to us that we are going to rot in hell because we happen to love each other.   They talk about being tolerant of others and treating people with respect and dignity but in reality it's all lies and all for show.   They denounce hate crimes as being evil but at the same time encourage those very same hate crimes against anyone who they feel is inferior to them or somehow threatens their view of the world."

I listened carefully to Rick as he explained why he wanted to move away from Atlanta.   After a second or so of silence, I spoke up, "I'm ready to move but where did you want to move to?"

"I don't know.   I have heard that the most gay-friendly cities are New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and maybe Boston," Rick said.   "Do you know anything about those cities?"

"No, I don't, remember I have lived most of my life on a small farm in Saskatchewan.   The nearest "big" city was Swift Current.   Even though my parents took us on family vacations down east, we never came to the United States on vacation.   We met my grandparents in Buffalo, New York, a couple of times but that's about it."

"Okay, pick a number between one and five," Rick said.

"One," I said.

"That means we are moving to Washington, DC." Rick said

"Why are we moving to Washington DC?"

"Because that was the number you picked," Rick said laughing at my puzzled expression.

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "You know I will move with you no matter where you go.   So when will we be moving?"

"In two weeks.   That gives us time to put in our two-week notice at our jobs and get our stuff packed up.  I already talked to your grandparents and to your Uncle Stan and Aunt Sharon.   All of them gave their approval and have offered to help us move."

"You mean everyone else knew!" I said trying to sound indignant but with Rick's hands caressing me I didn't succeed.

"Yep, they all know that I'm out of the Marine Corps and that we are moving to DC," Rick said grinning at me like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.  

"So that's why you've been so distant the last couple of weeks," I said as things fell into place for me.   "You wanted to surprise me with your news!" I exclaimed.

"And I succeeded.   You were completely clueless until just now," Rick said, his voice communicating his deep satisfaction with how his plans had come to fruition.

Rick kissed me, again, before saying, "I want to ask you out on a date tomorrow.   Is that okay with you?"

"Of course, it's okay with me.   What's the occasion?" I asked happy, again, that I had worried needlessly about Rick.

"It's our anniversary tomorrow.   I've got dinner reservations at Ray's in the City.   Remember our first night together I took you out to dinner there?"

"Yes, how could I forget that wonderful first night we had together?   I still am amazed that you fell in love with me and wanted me to be your life partner!"

"Good!   We are all set then for tomorrow.   Now let's try a repeat performance of that first night together, shall we?" Rick asked with the widest grin I'd seen so far tonight.     

The next morning I was aware of someone pulling on my nose.   At first, I thought maybe Rick was teasing me.   Then I remembered that Egan had spent the night.   Next I felt a little hand ruffle my hair.   Then Egan whispered in my ear, "Glenn, are you awake?"

I responded, "Yes, Egan, I'm awake."   I opened my eyes and looked into Egan's brilliant, deep blue eyes just a few inches from my face.   His blond hair was standing straight up and he was smiling at me with both dimples on prominent display.   Egan is such a charmer even when he wakes you up from a deep sleep!

"I'm hungry.   Can we eat now?" Egan asked.

I looked over at the clock.   It read 6 AM.   "Yeah, let's get you some breakfast little buddy," I said.   I had a couple of hours before I had to be at work so I could take the time to make up some pancakes this morning.   Fortunately, I'd remembered to put my boxer shorts back on before falling asleep.   I didn't' need Egan talking about us being naked in bed.   Not that it's a bad thing, but it's just that he is a typical little guy in that he says things that sometimes embarrass adults! 

I carefully moved Rick's arm from around my waist so as not to wake him up.   I got up and I carried Egan into the kitchen and started the coffee maker as I pulled together the pancake mix, milk, and eggs.  

"Hey, Egan, do you want some sausage or do you like bacon better?" I asked showing him the packages I had pulled from the freezer.

Egan pointed to the sausage package, "I want that one!"

"Cool.   I like sausage better than bacon, too!   How about some hot chocolate?"

"Yes, please," Egan responded very politely with a big grin on his face.   "I love hot chocolate!"

I fixed Egan's hot chocolate and put an ice cube in it to cool it down enough for him to drink.   I poured a cup of coffee for Rick and added cream and sugar.    I carried it into our bedroom and sat it on the lamp table next to Rick.

"Good morning, lover boy," I said as I leaned down to kiss Rick on the lips.   Rick responded to my kiss by pulling me down on top of him and wrapping his arms around me.  

Rick continued to kiss me when we heard Egan say, "Glenn, I've finished the hot chocolate.   Can I give Rick a good morning hug, too?"

Rick released me and I rolled off of him as he picked up Egan and gave him a hug.   "How's my big guy this morning?"

"I'm great.   We are having pancakes, eggs and sausage for breakfast.   Are you going to eat breakfast with us?" Egan asked looking expectantly at Rick.

"Yes, I'll have breakfast with you two," Rick responded, smiling at Egan's obvious delight that Rick was going to join us.

"Rick, your coffee is on the lamp table.   Egan and I will be in the kitchen cooking breakfast," I said smiling at my handsome lover.  

"I love you, Glenn," Rick said as he picked up his coffee.   "Hmmm…..just the way I like it," he said approvingly.

We left Rick to enjoy his coffee.  Egan and I got the electric griddle out and turned it on to pre-heat.   Egan helped me measure out the pancake mix and milk and let him mix them together.   Then I showed him how to crack the eggs and not get any shell in them so we could make scrambled eggs.

"Do you want chocolate chips in your pancakes?" I asked knowing the answer already.

"Please, can I?" Egan responded enthusiastically.

"Sure.   Are smiley faces, okay?" I asked.

"Yes, I love it when you make chocolate chip smiley faces for me, Glenn," he said.

I made six smiley face pancakes and then made six plain ones for me and six blueberry ones for Rick.   Next I cooked the sausage and the scrambled eggs.   Just as we finished putting the food on the table, Rick joined us for breakfast dressed in his running shorts and muscle t-shirt.

Rick came over to me and gave a hug and a quick kiss before ruffling Egan's hair as he sat down next to me at the table.    We said grace and dug in with gusto.   It didn't take long for the results of my labor to disappear!

We cleared the table and did the dishes.   Egan had migrated into the front room dragging his teddy bear with him.   Rick wiped down the table while I got the countertops.

As we were drying our hands on a dish towel, Rick said, "I'm going out for a run.   When I get back, you can go out for yours, Babe."   He pulled me into a tight embrace and gave me a quick kiss.   

I followed Rick into the hallway.   Rick opened the door just as Keith was going to knock, surprising both of them.

"Daddy!" Egan yelled as he came running out of the front room and threw himself into his father's arms.

"Hello, Egan.   Were you good for Rick and Glenn?" Keith asked his little guy.

"Yes.  Rick told me the true story of the Three Little Pigs last night," Egan eagerly explained.

"Good.   Maybe Rick will tell me the same story sometime," Keith said.   Looking over at me and Rick, he continued, "Thanks guys for watching Egan for us.   Kerry had the baby at 2 AM.   Diane Kerry weighs 7 pounds 2 ounces and measures 21 inches long."

"How's Kerry doing?" Rick asked.

"She's doing fine.   Kerry's Mom and Dad will be here in a couple of hours to help with the new baby.   I'm taking Egan up tonight to see the baby.   Do you guys want to come along?" Keith asked.

"Yes, we would love to come.   We'll see you tonight then," I said smiling at him.   "Egan, take good care of your daddy today, okay?"

"I will, Glenn.  Let's go home Daddy," Egan ordered.    I handed Egan's overnight bag to Keith and we watched them go down the hallway to the stairs that led down to Keith's condo.

Rick pulled me back inside and pushed me towards our bedroom.   "I thought you were going out running," I said already knowing what Rick had on his mind.

"We are after we spend some time together now that we are alone," Rick said stripping my clothes off and pushing me down on the bed.   After Rick's all night lovemaking sessions the last two days, he didn't need to prep me as he pushed in all the way with one stroke.   I love how it feels when he does that to me!   It always sends a thrill up my spine not to mention my dick!

Rick captured my mouth as he played with my nipples making me writhe in pleasure.   We quickly got into a rhythm as he pounded in and out of me.   Every part of my body was responding to Rick's animalistic onslaught demanding and taking what he wanted from me.   We reached our climax together and with such intensity that it left us both completely devoid of the energy to move.     

After a short while, however, I knew Rick wasn't done!   His dick never even softened the entire time we lay there together!   I knew he was up for more as he slowly started thrusting in and out of me, again.   This was going to be a record-setting day at this rate!

A couple of hours later Rick finally slid off of me completely exhausted.    After that performance by my man, I'm absolutely certain that I'm going to be walking funny for days!  

I looked over at the clock, "Are we going to work today?" I asked.

"No, we are going to start packing and getting ready to move today," Rick answered.   "We need to call in and give our two week notice though."

"Okay, but we need a shower first!" I exclaimed.   "We are both sweaty and smell like sex!"

"That's a good smell and I like it," Rick responded pinning me down on the bed as he mounted me, again.   "Are you ready for another wild ride?"

I looked into my lover's eyes, "You know I love it when you make me yours."

Rick performed his magic on me that left me limp as a rag doll.   Every muscle in my body felt like jelly.   Rick turned me over on my stomach and started massaging my body from head to toe.   I love his big hands kneading my muscles.   When he finished massaging my back, he rolled off of me and pulled me into a passionate kiss.

"Now, we can get a shower," Rick said.

A short time later, we sat at the kitchen table making a list of things we needed to do to get ready to move.

My list was pretty short:   1) Give two week notice at work, 2) Arrange for violin students to transfer to a new teacher, 3) Call Mom and Dad to let them know I'm moving and 4) Pick up boxes to begin packing.

I looked over at Rick's list.   It wasn't much longer than mine but had different items:   1) Give two week notice, 2) Arrange for moving van, 3) Call Grandpa for realtor's name in DC, and 4) Dinner tonight.

I'd almost forgotten about our dinner date!   I quickly added it to my list hoping that Rick hadn't noticed my omission.

We both called our offices and gave our two-week notice.   I went into the study to call my students while Rick talked to Grandpa in the kitchen.

Rick finished first and came up behind me in the study, "Grandpa told me to pack up our personal belongings but not to worry about anything else.   He plans to rent out the condo fully furnished so we don't have to pack any of the kitchen stuff.   Grandpa wants us to buy a new place and to decorate it from scratch just like we've done with the condo."

"That's really cool!   I'm glad Grandpa is going to let us leave most of this stuff here.   I'd been thinking of redecorating anyway.   Did Grandpa say anything about the pianos?" I asked my partner.

"Yes, we are to take the pianos and our personal stuff," Rick explained.  "Babe, Keith is going to drive over with me to pick up some boxes so I will see you in a little while.   I've made a list of box sizes and estimated how many of each we'll need.   Love you, Babe," Rick said as he gave me a quick kiss and left me to finish my calls.

We had purchased the condo six years earlier shortly after Rick asked me to be his life partner.   We learned a lot about each other during the process of setting up a new home for the two of us.   We were both students at the time and so our needs were different then than they are now.   Both of us are working and have developed new hobbies, etc., so moving to a new place would allow us to get a place that better suited our needs.  

My Grandpa Scarborough is so thoroughly amazing!   Rick and I are very fortunate to have the love and support of my grandparents.   It is such a contrast to Rick's family.  We've never reconciled with Rick's family over our relationship so it's even more important to us to be part of a loving family who accepts us as life partners.  

I finally finished contacting my violin students and arranged for a close friend of mine to take over as their teacher until they made arrangements either to continue on as his students or to find another teacher more to their liking.  

The last call I made was to my office.   It was with great pleasure that I told my boss I was leaving in two weeks!   She was in total shock.   I wish I could've seen her face!  I hung up before she could object to me being off today.   Boy!  Did that feel good or what!   I so hate my job!

Everyone in the office is so homophobic!   I've had to be very careful not to say anything that would set off the executives.   Not long after I started the job, one guy came out as being gay and he was not only fired but black-balled from getting a job anywhere else in the business in the Atlanta area.   He ended up moving across the country in order to get employment. 

I've worked as a systems analyst for a software development company for the last couple of years.   I've hated it since day one!   I know that Rick would let me quit at any time but I don't like being totally dependent on my guy to support me.   I've tried to make the best of it and it has been enjoyable….sometimes.  

I'm really a musician at heart but I've had to get a "real" job to keep up with the expenses.   So, I've taught violin lessons and played with the local symphony orchestra to keep up with the artistic side of my life and to keep me from going insane!   Maybe moving to Washington, DC, would provide me with the opportunity to move into the music scene and away from computers!   One can always hope!

My private reverie was broken when Rick and Keith returned with the packing boxes and stacked them in a corner of the front room.   I walked into the front room just as they finished stacking the boxes.

"It looks like you guys got enough packing boxes to pack up three condos not just one!" I exclaimed.

Rick replied defensively, "We got enough for two households: ours and Keith's.   It's easier for us to store them up here where Egan can't play with them.   Is that alright, Babe?"   He looked so contrite I had to smile.

"I am just amazed at how many boxes you guys got.   Sure, I'm okay with storing the boxes here.   Thanks, Keith, for helping get the boxes," I said still a little astonished at the stack of boxes they'd brought home.   I was a little confused by the Rick's statement about two households.   Kerry had just had a baby and it didn't make sense for them to be moving so quickly after the baby was born.

"I volunteered us to help Kerry pack up their stuff so we can all get moved to our new place," Rick said to me seeing my puzzled look.

"I didn't know the Keith and Kerry were moving with us!" I exclaimed in surprise.   "That's great!   But how are we going to manage with the newborn baby?"

"That's why I volunteered us to help pack up their house," Rick explained patiently.    "Keith and Kerry are moving to DC as well.   In fact, we are loading all of our stuff into the same moving truck and driving it to DC   Your Grandpa has already arranged for all of us to stay with some of his friends in Alexandria, Virginia, while we look for a place to live.   I have some of the real estate listings printed off for us to look at and decide if we want to investigate them further."

I love my partner!   He is so organized and I am so NOT that way.   I guess that comes with being "artistic" or something.   Rick's military training has been a real blessing to us at times because it has forced Rick to be very structured in his approach to life.   I know I need to become less scatter-brained and pay more attention to detail but it's so much easier to let Rick take care of me.   Don't get me wrong!   I take care of Rick, too, just in other ways so don't go away thinking it's all one sided!  It's just that organizational skills are not one of my strengths.

I walked over and gave Rick a quick kiss, "Thank you for taking such good care of me, Babe.   Keith, I'm glad you and Kerry are going to be close to us.   I was thinking how much I would miss seeing Egan and playing with the new baby!   Now, I won't miss out on seeing them grow up!"

"We're glad to be moving as well.  Kerry is ready to begin work on her doctorate at George Washington University.   We weren't sure where she was going to get accepted but we got word last week that GWU has accepted her into their program.   So everything about moving has happened in the last few days," Keith said.   He looked at me, "Glenn, I'm sorry we didn't tell you sooner but with the new baby and all, I didn't get around to talking with you about it.   Besides, Rick wanted to surprise you with his news about getting out of the Marine Corps!"

"That he did!   I was very surprised and very happy, too!   You don't know what a relief it is not to have to hide the fact that I love Rick and that he's my life partner," I said.

Rick put his arm around my waist and pulled me close for another quick kiss.   "Did you make all of your phone calls?" he asked.

"Yeah, I got hold of everyone and I even told my boss!   I loved making "that" phone call!" I responded.

"Good!   Let's get busy packing up our stuff so we can go down to Keith's place and help them out.   How about we start in our bedroom and work our way out from there?"  Rick asked.

"Sure, sounds good to me," I said smiling at my partner.   "I can't wait to begin our new lives together in a new city free of the restrictions the military imposed on us."

Keith said, "I'll see you guys later.   Kerry's parents are watching Egan for me so I'm heading back over to the hospital."    Keith left closing the door behind him. 

We went into our bedroom and proceeded to pack up our stuff.   We both packed a suitcase of things we'd need while we were looking for a new place to live.   I packed the boxes and Rick labeled everything and created an inventory sheet with each box's number and a brief description of its contents.   Then we moved on to the kitchen.   We left most of the dishes but I insisted on taking the pan set and the small appliances.   It wasn't long before it was time for our date.   We had both left out some of our best clothes for our special night out.   We both showered and dressed in no time and headed out to our favorite restaurant.

When we arrived, the waiter took us to the same table we had dined at the first time Rick took me out on a date.   I looked at the menu and decided to order the same thing I had that evening six years ago.   I looked over at Rick to see if he'd decided what to order, yet.

"I'm getting what I ordered our first night together.   What are you getting?" I asked smiling into Rick's eyes.

"I'm doing to do that as well.   I remember how excited you were to be with me and how you couldn't keep from touching me!"  Rick said with a laugh.

"It wasn't just all me!   You were just as excited as I was!   I was so overwhelmed by the fact that the most handsome, awesome guy in the world had just made love to me that afternoon and was having dinner with me at a nice restaurant," I said.

The waiter approached and took our orders.   Rick took my hand in his and looked into my eyes, "Glenn, the last six years have been the best ones of my whole life.   I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

"I feel the same way, Rick.   It's been a great adventure and I love being with you," I said.

Rick let go of my hand and reached into his pocket and pulled out a little box.   It was covered in velvet and had a gold-embossed logo on it.   I knew right away what Rick as going to do.   I looked at him and saw his huge smile and thought, "I hope he doesn't get on his knees!   He will totally embarrass me if he does!"

The next thing Rick did was do just that!   He went down on one knee and asked, "Russell Glenn Nielsen, will you marry me?"

"Yes, I'll marry you!" I exclaimed with tears of joy streaming down my face.

Rick took the ring out of the box and slipped it onto my ring finger.  It was beautiful!   I didn't have time to even think because suddenly there went up a cheer from the all around us.   I had been concentrating on Rick so much that I hadn't noticed that the restaurant staff were all around us.   They were cheering and clapping for us.  

Apparently, they were aware of what Rick was planning because the restaurant manager brought out two glasses of champagne and handed them to us.   Rick pulled me to my feet and we toasted each other and sipped our champagne.

The manager smiled at us, "Congratulations!   Tonight's dinner is on the house!  Please sit down and let us help you make this a very memorable evening."

As I returned to my seat, I took Rick's hand and raised it to my lips and gave it a kiss, "I love you, Rick Lernier.   Don't you ever forget that!"

I could see from the tears in Rick's eyes that he was feeling the same way I was.   We had long ago learned how to communicate with each other without speaking words.   This was one of those shared moments when we both knew what the other was thinking.   The love we have for each other seemed to grow even stronger as we sat holding hands across the table.   We both knew we were meant to be together, forever.   We found our soul mate in each other.  

Our dinner arrived and with it a bouquet of flowers.   The staff had provided the flowers and a congratulatory note.   The meal was perfect, the wait staff impeccable and the company the finest in the whole world!

We reminisced about our first few weeks as a couple.   Those first weeks were like a honeymoon for us.   We talked of the many experiences we have shared over the last six years both the good and the bad.   We expressed our love for each in many ways, verbal and non-verbal.   

After dinner, Rick drove us over to the hospital to see Keith and Kerry's new baby.   We stopped at the information desk to find out in which room Kerry was located.   We tapped lightly on the door.   Keith came to the door and let us into Kerry's room.

"Guys, I'm glad you made it.   I want to introduce you to Diane Kerry," Keith said as we approached the hospital bed where Kerry was holding the newborn baby which she held up for us to see.

"She's a beautiful baby, Kerry.   How are you holding up?" I asked.

"I'm doing, okay.   Just a little tired," Kerry said wearily.   "Thank you for watching Egan last night.   You know that he adores you both."

"He's a great kid, Kerry.   We are glad we could help," Rick said.

Kerry asked with a knowing smile, "Do you have some news of your own you'd like to share?"

Rick came up behind me and put his arms around me, "Yes, we have some news."

I said, "We're engaged!   Rick proposed to me tonight!"   I held out my hand for Kerry's inspection.

"That's a beautiful ring, Glenn," she said smiling up at me from her hospital bed.

Keith said, "It's about time.   I'm glad Rick finally popped the question!"

"Shh! Keith!   Rick needed to do it his own way.   We're both very happy for you two.   I can't think of two people who make a better couple than you guys.   Have you talked about setting a date for the wedding?" Kerry asked.

"No, we haven't got that far, yet," I said, "but you will be the first to know."

"Don't wait too long," Keith said slapping Rick on the back, "You've waited long enough already!"

Rick released me from his embrace, "I agree with you Keith.    It did take me a long time to make up my mind but I've made my decision.   I know I had Glenn pretty worried the last couple of weeks."

I nodded my agreement, "Yeah, I wasn't sure what was going on!"

"We have to get moved first.   After that we can start planning our wedding," Rick said.   "Speaking of moving, we need to let you have some rest Kerry."

"Congratulations to both of you," I said.  "We'll see you tomorrow."

"Thanks for stopping to see us," Kerry said.   "Keep an eye on Egan for me.   I know my parents will take good care of him but it always helps to have more eyes to watch over him!"

"Thanks, guys," Keith said as we left Kerry's hospital room.

Rick took us home and led me into our bedroom.   "I think it's time to celebrate our engagement, don't you?"   Rick's broad grin reminded me of our first night together.  

"Of course, I think we should celebrate," I said as I helped him undress.   "You will always be my hero, Mr. Lernier."

Rick returned the favor by caressing my skin as he undid my zipper and dropped my pants in a puddle around my feet.   I stepped out of them and Rick led me to our waiting bed to remind me in a very physical way that he loved me.

To be continued . . .